managing network effects through parasitism
Network effects are such a pernicious thing. They give us the internet, but they also give us an internet full of monopolistic worse-is-better players that use network effects to stifle improvements and competition.
Sometimes the best you can manage is to be a parasite.
So I'm back on facebook ... sort of.
My strategy for facebook is to be as near to a featureless datapoint as I can. I won't post anything. I entered as bad quality information as I could get away with. I turned all privacy controls off, on the theory that this way I don't have to worry about facebook eroding privacy since everything about me on facebook is aggressively public.
By never posting anything to facebook, I am trying to fight the network effect; trying to avoid increasing the value of facebook due to me being on it.
I've adblocked the text entry field on facebook just to avoid the temptation. I want to erase the Like buttons too. Technologically, I think a good approach would be a browser plugin that does these things while extracting all available content and optionally sending it to a RECAP-type system.
I only friend people who I need to keep up with and who have little or no other internet presence. This is because I am aware that each person I friend still propels facebook's network effect a little bit; even though they'll never see any useful information from me, they will know that they are able to talk to me via facebook.
I only log into facebook once a week or so (this is easy when you're not interacting with it anyway), and read whatever sample of farmville and other posts facebook selects as "important" (worse than usual probably since I never give it feedback). So people I friend can't rely on me reading everything they do, which reduces the value a little more.
I will probably delete this account occasionally, and then re-add it later. Just often enough to be really annoying.
Similarly, I no longer gate my identi.ca account to twitter, and have deleted as many tweets as I could stand to (one click and one keypress per tweet; no mass-delete; ugh!), and protected my account to avoid accidential new tweets leaking out.
Since twitter is not quite as evil as facebook I feel slightly less bad about exposing more of my social graph there. Only the folks who are too lame to get on an OpenMicroBlogging site like identi.ca.
Of course there was a network effect with the telephone as well, and while it got deregulated it's still pretty bad, and also a technology that I mostly dislike using. Oddly my phone behavior is backwards to the other two networks; I only make outgoing phone calls, never answering the phone (unless real life intervenes very severely). I listen to some random fraction of my voice mail and read whatever ones manage to get machine-transcribed.